ALL communication is a warning.
The more articulate a person, the more they are experiencing what they are warning us about.
All information presupposes danger. The menu cries out against the horror of starvation–the diet warns of the menu. The chef who starves cooks best.
Priests are unable to warn directly, since the more articulate the priest, the more that priest personally knows the very sin against which their sermon is a warning.
The dilemma of the articulate priest is at the heart of all moral philosophy and its intellectual, political, cultural, and pedagogical conflicts.
Loyalty is the quality which attempts to stave off this conflict. Loyalty to group or tribe warns against the dilemma of the articulate priest. The truly articulate priest disrupts loyalty and its certainties; this is why prophets are hated in their own land.
Camille Paglia is an articulate priest who smashes loyalites. She offends all groups. All have reason to despise her: Democrats, Republicans, independents, feminists, conservatives, gays, Catholics, and scholars.
Paglia is the Barren Mother and the Breeding Virgin of intellectual culture.
She is a lustful Socrates, whose questing, intellectual advocacy is centered on ecstatic pleasures and sexual beauty–hers is a warning against what she, personally, has secretly suffered: chastity.
Obviously it’s nobody’s business how much someone gets laid, but my thesis is based on a guess that during Paglia’s development as a young person, she didn’t get laid. This was both her strength and her weakness.
Paglia fell in love at a very early age with Amelia Earhart’s lone flights—the poem “Alone” by Edgar Poe probably best sums up her soul. Paglia was a virgin during the 60s and adopted the brazen lesbian role as a graduate student to hide the shame of her uncool virginity.
Paglia, the scholar of sex, shone, as the scholar, herself, remained virginal, or, if not virginal, deeply ashamed of losing out to more successful schmoozers in sex and career.
The virgin is alone more profoundly when surrounded, and not barred from, sexual activity. For whatever reason, actual sex wasn’t a fit, so Paglia became an artistic fan of pornography—but not out of a feeling of deficiency, for she was an Amelia Earhart in her soul, flying above the boorish crowd.
We warn of what we know—the awed, hurting mind produces what the sensual, happy mind cannot.
Sexual Personae marked the start of a brilliant career. Her gadfly presence in magazines and the lecture circuit, in the wake of the success of her historical treatise, was truly exciting. But the promised second volume of Sexual Personae never arrived. Then she began to write on politics, speaking of presidents and secretaries of state as if she were making snarky judgments at a high school dance. It never quite rang true.
Paglia also boxed herself in as a hater of ‘French Theory;’ it was always obvious to me this prejudice of hers was linked to her mentor, Harold Bloom, who, like many academics, is explicitly pro-Emerson/anti-Poe, and this Anglophone school can never forgive the French for loving Poe.
Then she took five years to write Break, Blow, Burn, her book on poetry, a tepid close-reading exercise of some of her favorite poems.
How in the world did the author of Sexual Personae morph into Cleanth Brooks?
And five years…think of it. That’s the writing career of Keats, the recording career of the Beatles (almost), the entire career of the Doors, to take a few dozen short poems, many loved and adored since childhood, and riff on them…this took five years?
Couldn’t most of us do this in a week?
Paglia still blogs on Salon and most readers hate her; the consensus of Salon readers seems to be, I HATE THIS B***, FIRE HER!!!
Which is great. We at Scarriet understand. But what happened to you, Camille?